Pacquiao urges public to support Filipino athletes, set aside SEA Games woes

Robie de Guzman
Filipino Boxing icon and Senator Manny Pacquiao

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino Boxing icon and Senator Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday called on Filipinos to show their support for Filipino athletes competing in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and set aside issues on the reported shortcomings of the games’ organizing committee.

“Ang panawagan ko po sa ating mga kababayan, magkaisa po tayo, suportahan natin ang mga atleta natin kasi ito ang mukha natin, ito ang karangalan nating lahat,” Pacquiao said in a media interview at the Senate.

“Kung ano ‘yung problema saka natin pag-usapan, after ng SEA Games,” he added.

Pacquiao said bickering over supposed problems in logistics and accommodation, and other mishaps in the country’s hosting of the games will not help Filipino athletes to focus on the competition.

“Kapag lagi nating pinag-uusapan may mga problema tapos baka malaman ng mga atleta natin e hindi makadagdag, hindi makatulong sa kanila, iba kasi yung naka-focus yung mga atleta natin, marinig nila na nagkaproblema tayo dito, sa tingin ko makaka-distract sa kanila,” he said.

Pacquiao, meanwhile, advised Filipino athletes to trust in God and do everything they can to succeed in their fight.

He also urged SEA Games organizers to immediately address whatever problems being encountered by athletes and other delegates participating in the event.

“May pagkakataon pa para makabawi kung may pagkukulang man. Makabawi at maipakita sa ating mga bisita na tayong mga Pilipino ay magaling pagdating sa pag-estima ng mga bisita,” he said.

Pacquiao will be lighting the SEA Games cauldron in the opening ceremony which will be held at the Philippine Arena on Saturday, Nov. 30.

The said cauldron, which costs P50-million, has been among the issues plaguing the country’s hosting of the SEA Games. Photos of yet to be completed venues of sporting events also made rounds on social media.

Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) chairman Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said the delay in the approval of the 2019 national budget led to the mishaps encountered by the country.

Cayetano shared the view of Deputy Speaker Mikee Arroyo who blamed the Senate for the stalled budget passage.

But Senate President Vicente Sotto III refuted Cayetano, saying all problems in the budget stemmed from the House of Representatives.

Sotto cited the sudden shift in House leadership which also triggered changes in committee chairmanships.

House members in July 2018 voted to oust then-Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to put Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo to the chamber’s highest post.

Sotto said the House normally submits the budget bill to the Senate before October 1 but the upper chamber only received the House-approved budget on Nov. 24, leaving the senators just a couple of weeks to go through its provisions before the Congress went on a holiday break.

He also noted that it was Senate Minority Leader Franklin’s recommendation that paved the way for the resolution of the budget impasse.

“Together and other members or leadership of the Senate at that time we’re ready for a reenacted budget because I will not affix my signature on something unconstitutional,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

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